Leeds daredevils take a leap of faith to raise funds for St Gemma's Hospice

Daredevil fundraisers took a leap of faith today as they raised money for St Gemma's Hospice - from a very great height.

Saturday, 23rd March 2019, 15:46 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd March 2019, 15:58 pm
Ben White gets ready to abseil down the CVL building in Leeds earlier today.

More than 40 people have taken part in a charity abseil today from the Campus Living Village site in Leeds City Centre, which is around 230 feet high.

There are 23 floors of flats which houses students at Leeds Beckett but today it had some nervous gatecrashers.

One at a time the abseilers made their way down the building with just a rope and a harness for company.

Ben White gets ready to abseil down the CVL building in Leeds earlier today.

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They had all signed up to do the event to raise money for the Moortown based hospice, which is the largest in Yorkshire.

Ben White, 30, of White Laithe Approach, Whinmoor was the first one to take the plunge and had been roped into it by his wife Holly who is an "adrenalin junkie".

Just before he went over the edge he told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "St Gemma's is a cause that is close to where we live, doing a lot of good work. I have done an abseil before for the Samaritans - but it was a lot lower than this - it should be fine."

Following him was wife Holly who was abseiling for the first time.

A long way down. A 230 feet descent.

She added: "I will try anything once and it is for charity. St Gemma's is a really good local charity. I felt okay until I saw Ben go over the edge."

A group of three friends were next up who wanted to do something to mark Natalie Drake's 40th birthday on Monday.

Ms Drake of Dale Park Rise at Cookridge said: "I think I have got worse with heights as I get older but we are doing it for St Gemma's which is a fabulous cause."

When she made it to the bottom she added: "I feel much better now I am down. Going over the edge was nerve-wracking but a fabulous achievement."

Natalie Drake marks her 40th birthday a little differently.

Her pal Katie Grant, 39 of Farrar Lane, Adel added: "I had a friend in St Gemma's at the end of her life and she was the same age as me and they were amazing. We did Leeds 10k and now this. Going over the edge was terrifying but I enjoyed the view going down. My hands ache from gripping on but it is an achievement and we are so pleased."

It costs £1,040 an hour to provide services and £6,500 on average to care for an individual patient referred to St Gemma's. The hospice only gets 26 per cent of its income from the NHS and the rest is made up of donations and public support.

Pete Watson, a senior events fundraiser for St Gemma's added: "We have been doing this for the last three or four years and it usually raises £15,000 for the hospice. It is the tallest abseil in Leeds off the third tallest building.

"We have a real mix of people doing it. People doing it for a loved one, because it takes them out of their comfort zone - one lady told me she struggled to stand on a chair let alone abseil so it is a big deal for some people. We also had corporate groups doing it on behalf of the hospice as well.

"It is such an achievement - you only have to stand at the foot of the building and look up to see how high it is and at the top you can see the whole of the city beneath you."